It's Saturday night in Las Vegas.
A charismatic host welcomes one thousand spectators to a night of singing, sharing, and live entertainment. Lite rock wafts from a dimly lit stage as ushers hand out programs and escort older women to their seats. The crowd sits on folding chairs, eyes gazing at the large movie screen unfurled before them. A catchy TV tune begins playing over the sound system; whispers hiss through the audience as it recognizes the theme song from The Andy Griffith Show. Anxiously, the crowd waits for the main event.
This performance is one of many jam-packed extravaganzas taking place around the city tonight--but this one is miles from the sparkle and spectacle of Downtown and the Strip. It will not showcase master magicians, country-western singers, or the Girls of Glitter Gulch. Tonight's show will be fronted by a new breed of Las Vegas celebrity, one who makes use of many of the same gimmicks that have always drawn people to this city--dazzling sights, captivating music, and the promise of great entertainment.
It's Saturday night in Las Vegas, and the headliner is working for God.
The crowd at Central Christian, one of a handful of so-called megachurches that have sprung up in the last decade, taps its feet to the whistle of the Andy Griffith Show theme. Along with clips from this 1960s